Ray Niles Hits Two Home Runs

 Posted by on 30 January 2009 at 12:03 am  Activism, Economics, Technology
Jan 302009

I’ve just had the pleasure of reading two of Ray Niles’ recent articles, one on financial regulation and one on proposed government internet regulations to guarantee “net neutrality”. Both are clear and excellent applications of Objectivist principles to important and timely issues. If you have an interest in these topics (or know someone who does), these are “must reads”.

His article on “net neutrality” appears in the Winter 2008-2009 issue of The Objective Standard here: “Net Neutrality: Toward a Stupid Internet”.

Given the widespread prevalence of the “information wants to be free” viewpoint by libertarian tech types, it’s refreshing to read a principled defense of property rights as applied to the issues of internet traffic and the “net neutrality” debate.

If you’re not a subscriber, you can purchase a PDF of the entire piece for $4.95. But you really should be a subscriber, if you’re not already.

His second piece is on the issue of financial regulations in the wake of the recent economic crisis. Here is his description (reproduced with his permission):

I am excited to announce that an article I wrote has been published in CFA Magazine, a magazine with global circulation of 100,000 that is published by CFA Institute, a finance professional organization. It is part of an “Agree / Disagree” set on the proposition: “The global market crisis calls for an expansion of regulatory oversight.” I have permission to email it; if you want a copy, let me know and I will email it to you. Please feel free to re-distribute it, but do not post it in its entirety on the web.

In the article, I call for gold money and the abolition of regulatory agencies. I identify the need for government to recognize the right to life, liberty, and property. The editor featured the article as the magazine’s cover story under a scary image that says, “Big Government Is Watching.” In the print version of the magazine, a yellow banner also asks, “Is more regulation the answer to market woes?”

Here are the opening paragraphs. Later, I discuss the specific causes and solution to the crisis.

Regulation cannot be the solution to the financial crisis because it is the cause of the financial crisis. The only proper action for governments to take is to remove existing regulations, fully recognize property rights, and enforce already-existing laws against fraud and theft. Doing so will help our economy speedily recover and make future crises smaller and rarer.

In fact, the premise itself is misleading. “Regulatory oversight” implies that regulation is some form of law enforcement mechanism that protects the rights to life and property, akin to laws against robbery, murder, and fraud. But that is not the case. Such laws already exist on the books and should be enforced when mortgage lenders, for example, commit fraud. No new regulation is necessary to protect rights.

Instead of protecting rights, regulations violate them. A regulation is an action by a government body that intervenes in voluntary agreements between individuals. It prohibits — before the fact — entire classes of behavior, criminalizing that behavior even if it is voluntary and involves no compulsion or fraud. For example, a law such as the Community Reinvestment Act that forces lenders to give mortgage loans to borrowers that do not meet their credit standards violates the right of the lender to decide whether and to whom to lend its money.

To get the full version of the article, you can contact Ray directly at: “rayniles (at) rcniles (dot) com”.

This would be a great article to distribute to friends, coworkers, your investment advisor, or anyone who lost money in the markets in the last 6 months (which is pretty much everyone in the Western World!)

Plus Ray’s example highlights two important points:

1) Americans are interested in hearing our message. Many people know that there is something deeply wrong with the status quo, and at some level they recognize that Obama-style socialism is not the answer. But they don’t know what the positive alternative is. We can offer them that. Americans are becoming increasingly receptive to our ideas. Hence, there is no better time to speak out.

2) Individuals can make a difference. I’ll let Ray speak for himself if he wishes, but until relatively recently he did not engage in any kind of formal activism. But he has found subjects that were of great interest to him and chosen to write on those subjects to appropriate audiences.

The result has been two articles in The Objective Standard (one on energy policy now available for free and his more recent article on “net neutrality”) as well as his article for CFA Magazine. This latter piece could reach many influential minds in the financial industry and give them the moral defense of the free market that they so badly need.

Ray Niles has clearly upped his game. And I thank him for it!

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